Food Guts - Ingredient Information

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Bay Leaf

Nutritional Information

1 tbsp crumbled, bay leaf

  • Calories 6
  • Calories from Fat 1.35
  • Amount%DV
  • Total Fat 0.15g0%
  • Saturated Fat 0.041g0%
  • Monounsaturated Fat 0.03g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat 0.041g
  • Cholestreol 0mg0%
  • Sodium 0mg0%
  • Potassium 10mg0%
  • Total Carbohydrate 1.35g0%
  • Dietary Fiber 0.5g2%
  • Sugars 0g
  • Protein 0.14g0%
  • Calcium 2mg0%
  • Iron 4mg22%
  • Vitamin A 2%
  • Vitamin C 1%

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Bay Leaf on Wikipedia:

Not to be confused with the Pokémon Bayleef. Bay leaf Laurus nobilis, known as bay leaf, from William Woodville, Medical Botany, 1793. Scientific classification Kingdom: Plantae (unranked): Magnoliophyta (unranked): Magnoliopsida Order: Laurales Family: Lauraceae Genus: Laurus Species: L. nobilis Binomial name Laurus nobilis

Bay leaf (plural bay leaves) refers to the aromatic leaf of the bay laurel (Laurus nobilis, Lauraceae). Fresh or dried bay leaves are used in cooking for their distinctive flavor and fragrance. The leaves are often used to flavor soups, stews, braises and pâtés in Mediterranean cuisine. The fresh leaves are very mild and do not develop their full flavor until several weeks after picking and drying.[1]

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Taxonomy

Several other plants use the term ``bay leaf,`` but do not refer to the leaves of the Bay Laurel. They include:

California bay leaf The leaf of the California bay tree (Umbellularia californica), also known as 'California laurel', 'Oregon myrtle', and 'pepperwood', is similar to the Mediterranean bay but has a stronger flavor. ``Indian bay leaf`` (also tej pat, tejpat, tejpata तेजपत्ता or Tamalpatra तमालपत्र or palav aaku in Telugu) The leaf of the Cinnamomum tejpata (malabathrum) tree is similar in fragrance and taste to cinnamon bark, but milder. In appearance, it is similar to the other bay leaves but is culinarily quite different, having an aroma and flavor more similar to that of cassia. It is inaccurately called a bay leaf because while it is in the same family, it is of a different genus than the bay laurel. ``Indonesian bay leaf`` or ``Indonesian laurel`` (salam leaf) The leaf of Syzygium polyanthum. Not commonly found outside of Indonesia, this exotic spice is applied to meat and, less often vegetables. Like Indian bay leaf, it is also inaccurately named because the plant is actually a member of the Myrtaceae family.[2]

History

The bay laurel tree has been cultivated since the beginning of recorded history.[3] The bay leaf originated in Asia Minor, and spread to the Mediterranean and other countries with suitable climates. Bay leaf is not grown in Northern regions, as the plants do not thrive in cold climates. Turkey is one of the main exporters of bay leaves, although they are also grown in areas of France, Belgium, Italy, Russia, Central America, North America, and India.[1] The laurel tree that the bay leaf comes from was very important both symbolically and literally in both Greece and Rome. The laurel can be found as a central component found in many ancient mythologies that glorify the tree as a symbol of honor.[4] Bay leaves are one of the most widely used culinary herbs in Europe and North America.

Taste and aroma

If eaten whole, bay leaves are pungent and have a sharp, bitter taste. As with many spices and flavorings, the fragrance of the bay leaf is more noticeable than its taste. When dried, the fragrance is herbal, slightly floral, and somewhat similar to oregano and thyme. Myrcene, which is a component of many essential oils used in perfumery, can be extracted from the bay leaf. Bay leaves also contain the essential oil eugenol.[4]

Uses

Bay leaves are a fixture in the cooking of many European cuisines (particularly those of the Mediterranean), as well as in North America. They are used in soups, stews, meat, seafood and vegetable dishes. The leaves also flavor many classic French dishes. The leaves are most often used whole (sometimes in a bouquet garni) and removed before serving. In Indian (Sanskrt name Tamaalpatra, Hindi Tezpatta) and Pakistani cuisine bay leaves are often used in biryani, other rich spicy dishes - although not as an everyday ingredient in home cuisine - and as an ingredient in garam masala.

Bay leaves can also be crushed or ground before cooking. Crushed bay leaves impart more of their desired fragrance than whole leaves, but are more difficult to remove, and thus they are often used in a muslin bag or tea infuser. Ground bay laurel may be substituted for whole leaves, and does not need to be removed, but it is much stronger due to the increased surface area and in some dishes the texture may not be desirable.

Bay leaves can also be scattered in a pantry to repel meal moths[5], flies and roaches.

Medicinal value

This section does not cite any references or sources. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (October 2009)

In the Middle Ages bay leaves were believed to induce abortions and to have many magical qualities. They were once used to keep moths away, owing to the leaf's lauric acid content that gives it insecticidal properties. Bay leaves have many properties that make them useful for treating high blood sugar, migraine headaches, bacterial and fungal infections, and gastric ulcers. Bay leaves and berries have been used for their astringent, carminative, diaphoretic, digestive, diuretic, emetic and stomachic properties. Bay Oil, or Oil of Bays (Oleum Lauri) is used in liniments for bruising and sprains. Bay leaf has been used as an herbal remedy for headaches. It contains compounds called parthenolides, which have proven useful in the treatment of migraines. Bay leaf has also been shown to help the body process insulin more efficiently, which leads to lower blood sugar levels. It has also been used to reduce the effects of stomach ulcers. Bay Leaf contains eugenol, which has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. Bay leaf is also an anti-fungal and anti-bacterial. Bay Leaf has also been used to treat rheumatism, amenorrhea, and colic.

Safety

Some members of the Laurel family (including mountain laurel), as well as the unrelated but visually similar cherry laurel, have leaves that are poisonous to humans and livestock. While these plants are not sold anywhere for culinary use, their visual similarity to bay leaves has led to the oft-repeated belief that bay leaves should be removed from food after cooking because they are poisonous. This is not true - bay leaves may be eaten without toxic effect. However, they remain very stiff even after thorough cooking, and if swallowed whole or in large pieces, they may pose a risk of scratching the digestive tract or even causing choking. Thus most recipes that use bay leaves will recommend their removal after the cooking process has finished.[6]

Cultivation

Gardeners in frost-free or light frost areas will find that Bay Laurel seedlings planted in the ground willingly grow into large trees, 38 feet and taller; but when kept pruned the Bay Laurel tree can thrive as a small bush. Bay Laurel can also be grown in containers, the size of which limits the ultimate size of the trees. New plants are often started via layering, or from cuttings, since growing from seed can be difficult.

Bay trees are difficult to start from seed, due in part to the seed's low germination rate, and long germination period. Fresh seeds with the pericarp removed typically have a 40% germination rate, while dried seeds and/or seeds with an intact pericarp have yet lower germination rates. In addition, the Bay Laurel seed germination period can be 50 days or more, which increases the risk of the seeds rotting before they germinate. Treating the seeds with gibberellic acid can be useful in increasing seed yield, as is careful monitoring of moisture levels in the rooting media.[7]

Gallery

Bay leaf

Leaves and flower buds

Bay leaves

Laurus nobilis bush

A close-up of several Laurus nobilis leaves

Dried bay leaves in a bowl

References

^ a b ``Spice Trade: Bay Leaf``. http://www.spice-trade.com/bay-leaf.html. Retrieved 2009-04-11.  ^ ``Spice Pages: Indonesian Bay-Leaf``. http://www.uni-graz.at/~katzer/engl/Euge_pol.html. Retrieved 2009-04-11.  ^ ``Bay Leaf and california bay leaf``. http://www.chow.com/ingredients/77. Retrieved 2009-04-11.  ^ a b ``Encyclopedia of Spices: Bay Leaf``. http://www.theepicentre.com/Spices/bay.html. Retrieved 2009-04-11.  ^ ``How to Repel Grain Moths with Bay Leaves``. http://www.care2.com/greenliving/repel-grain-moths-with-bay-leaves.html. Retrieved 2009-04-11.  ^ ``Straight Dope: Are Bay Leaves Poisonous?``. http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/2695/what-is-the-origin-of-the-song-theres-a-place-in-france-where-the-naked-ladies-dance. Retrieved 2009-04-11.  ^ ``SpringerLink: Seed dormancy in bay laurel``. http://www.springerlink.com/content/kh684u8757716q57/. Retrieved 2009-04-11.  v â€¢ d â€¢ e Herbs and spices   Herbs

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